The Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) movement, currently in control of several cities in northern Mali, has threatened to launch attacks against the state as the latter seeks to intervene militaryily in the north of the country. The movement also threatened to attack other countries that support the Malian state, such as France. In a statement to Agence France-Presse, Omar Walad Hamada, one of the movement’s leaders, said that his fighters can stand up to any military force, and that the fighters are waiting for a simple cue to carry out suicide bombings.
Hamad, who is reported to be close to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the Al-Moulathamine (masked men) Battalion, said that France is not capable of sending its own troops to intervene on the battlefield. Instead, it sends the troops of other countries. However, should any assault be carried out against the movement, Hamad said that France will also be attacked.
Hamad praised Algeria’s stance — which has distanced itself militarily from northern Mali — describing its position as “a rational.” He added that Algeria has experience in such cases, unlike the other "bribed" governments in west Africa. This was a reference to the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), which defended the option of a military intervention as a solution to the crisis in Mali. ECOWAS earlier announced its willingness to send a force of 3,300 soldiers to drive the rebels out of northern Mali.
Ansar Dine’s threats came after a US government statement warning US citizens of a “possible terrorist attack” and violent acts against US citizens worldwide. The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the US State Department issued a statement warning that terror groups such as al-Qaeda continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
“The attacks may take the form of suicide bombings, assassinations or abductions,” said the statement.
The US Bureau urged citizens to exercise caution when using public transport, including sea transportation. The Bureau added that the Middle East and North Africa are the most dangerous areas, as terrorist groups and pirates have already carried out many attacks in several countries.
The statement said several places are likely to be targeted by terrorists, including “important sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship and schools, among other places.” The US State Department urged its citizens who are living abroad or are planning to travel to use the “Smart Traveler” program to find out whom to contact in an emergency.